The school was founded in AD 962 by imperial decree of Otto I. Initially it was a center for study of the general liberal arts curriculum of the medieval period. The faculties of law and medicine were added in the 13th century. Pope John XXII closed the school in 1322, and during the next hundred years it was often reopened and closed. It became a university in 1502, and after 1545 under the patronage of the ducal House of Farnese. The Farnese Duke Ranuccio I founded and endowed the university College of Nobles with a distinguished faculty, but between 1731 and 1748 the university was again neglected. Things improved in 1762 under Duke Ferdinand I de Bourbon, when he founded a great state university at Parma and endowed it with possessions confiscated from the Jesuits. Future Jesuit Father General Luigi Fortis was invited to head the College of Nobles. New studies were added. The university experienced a rapid growth phase and established an astronomical observatory, a botanical garden and laboratories of anatomy, chemistry and experimental physics. In 1811 the French government deemed the university an Academy of the Empire, but it lost this status a mere three years later. The university was closed to foreign students in 1831 and fell into decay. It was revived in 1854 by the duchess regent and is now a state administration with administrative autonomy.
The University holds 9 Departments, 39 First Cycle Degree Courses, 6 Single Cycle Degree Courses, 40 Second Cycle Degree Courses (4 of which entirely held in English), as well as many Postgraduate schools, Postgraduate Teacher Training courses, several Master Programmes and PhD Research Projects.
The ideal size of the University (26,000 students, with more than 5,000 graduates per year and about 1,800 faculty and staff members), together with the quality of life in Parma has always attracted a large number of students from all over Italy. The main building of the University is located in the heart of the city and houses the rector’s office, other administrative offices and the Department of Law, Politics and International Studies.
The services and facilities of the University of Parma attract an ever-growing number of students. There are information offices and career counselling services to help students with their university-related choices, a strong international network for teaching activities and research, and a lively exchange of students thanks to community programmes and scholarships. Libraries, computer laboratories and Internet access points, student residences and canteens, part-time jobs, cultural activities, a toll-free number and post-graduation career counseling are all available to students .
the University of Parma CUS organises preparatory training sessions for various sports – horse-riding, aerobics, gymnastics, golf, swimming, volleyball, basketball, pre-skiing exercises, body building, tennis, martial arts, modern and Latin American dancing, athletics, fencing, archery, rugby, table tennis, and triathlon, as well as a number of tournaments reserved to students – five-a-side football, volleyball, basketball, tennis, seven-a-side rugby, fencing, golf, beach volleyball, athletics, and table tennis.